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State v. Branch

Supreme Court of Nebraska

June 14, 2013

State of Nebraska, appellee,
v.
James L. Branch, appellant.

1. Postconviction: Constitutional Law: Appeal and Error. In appeals from postconviction proceedings, an appellate court reviews de novo a determination that the defendant failed to allege sufficient facts to demonstrate a violation of his or her constitutional rights or that the record and files affirmatively show that the defendant is entitled to no relief.

2. Postconviction: Constitutional Law: Judgments: Proof. An evidentiary hearing on a motion for postconviction relief is required on an appropriate motion containing factual allegations which, if proved, constitute an infringement of the movant's rights under the Nebraska or federal Constitution, causing the judgment against the defendant to be void or voidable.

3. Postconviction. An evidentiary hearing is not required when a motion for postconviction relief alleges only conclusions of fact or law.

4. Postconviction: Constitutional Law: Judgments: Proof. If a defendant makes sufficient allegations of a constitutional violation which would render a judgment void or voidable, an evidentiary hearing on a motion for postconviction relief may be denied only when the records and files affirmatively show that the defendant is entitled to no relief.

Appeal from the District Court for Douglas County: W. Mark Ashford, Judge.

[286 Neb. 84] Sean M. Conway, of Dornan, Lustgarten & Troia, P.C., L.L.O., for appellant.

Jon Bruning, Attorney General, and George R. Love for appellee.

Heavican, C.J., Wright, Stephan, McCormack, and Cassel, JJ.

Heavican, C.J.

INTRODUCTION

James L. Branch's motion for postconviction relief was denied without an evidentiary hearing. He appeals. We conclude that Branch is entitled to an evidentiary hearing on his allegation regarding potential alibi evidence and accordingly reverse the district court's denial of a hearing. As to Branch's other allegations, however, we affirm the district court's judgment.

BACKGROUND

In March 2008, Branch was charged by amended information with robbery, first degree false imprisonment, and kidnapping. At his jury trial, Branch testified in his own behalf that he was not present during the alleged crimes. Following the conclusion of his trial, Branch was convicted of robbery and kidnapping, and the false imprisonment charge was dismissed. He was sentenced to 40 to 50 years' imprisonment for robbery and life imprisonment for kidnapping; this court affirmed.[1]

In April 2011, Branch filed a pro se motion for postconviction relief. He was appointed counsel, and an amended motion for postconviction relief was filed. That motion alleged that trial and appellate counsel were ...


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